NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 8, 2008

Despite spending ever more time and money on the Internet, Americans don't seem to be wising up to online scams, says The Atlantic.

According to a recent report by the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center:

  • While total complaints about online scams remained flat last year (at some 200,000), fraudsters made off with more money than ever -- $239 million, up about 20 percent over 2006.
  • Fraud on auction sites like eBay caused the most complaints; an average loss of $484 per incident.
  • Those schemes seem small in comparison with investment fraud ($3,548 per incident), check scams ($3,000) and Nigerian email rope-a-dopes ($1,923).

The feds also warn about secret-shopper scams, in which victims are hired to help evaluate retail outlets or restaurants.  They get a bad check in the mail and are told to quickly wire a percent of the total to a third party to cover cost; by the time the check bounces, their money is gone. 

Scammers also snared many victims on dating and social-networking sites, says The Atlantic.  In these cons, the putative love interest asks for money to pay for travel to an amorous meeting, then claims to undergo a series of expensive disasters -- and asks for more cash.

Source: "Cyber Suckers," The Atlantic, July/August 2008.

For text:


Browse more articles on Government Issues